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The OvaHerero Peoples, alongside organizations, Natural Justice and International Rivers, launched the Biocultural Community Protocol (BCP) of the OvaHerero of the Kaokoland in Namibia and Angola in June 2024.

Read the Biocultural Community Protocol (BCP) of the OvaHerero of the Kaokoland in Namibia and Angola in OvaHerero here or in English here.

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The development of the Biocultural Community Protocol (BCP) of the OvaHerero of Kaokoland in Namibia and Angola started in 2020, embracing a participatory and culturally sensitive approach that is community-centered which included many community consultations. The process has been supported by OvaHerero researchers, International Rivers and Natural Justice.

The OvaHerero of the Kaokoland in Namibia and Angola, referred to by outsiders as the OvaHimba, are semi-nomadic pastoralists residing in Namibia and Angola, in the vicinity of the Kunene River. The Kunene River valley is the ancestral home of the OvaHerero who have lived there for more than 500 years.  

What is a Biocultural Community Protocol?

A Biocultural Community Protocol (BCP) is a community document created to provide a roadmap for understanding the history, traditional protocols and cultural practices that have guided the sustainable use of natural resources and the Indigenous knowledge systems of the OvaHerero of the Kaokoland in Angola and Namibia. The BCP also sets out the community’s vision and details the current challenges.

This BCP provides clear terms for regulating access to their traditional knowledge and natural resources, whilst giving insight into important social and cultural values of the OvaHerero. It provides insights into how they have retained their way of life as successful semi-nomadic pastoralists, whose economic independence and intangible cultural heritage are directly linked to their territories.

As a community so deeply connected to the environment, the OvaHerero are additionally susceptible to the negative impacts of climate change. Furthermore, the OvaHerero’s cultural practices and the OtjiHerero language face challenges due to the gradual transition towards modern ways of living. The potential loss of the language equates to a loss of cultural narratives, oral traditions, and indigenous knowledge.

Now launched, the BCP will be used to affirm and protect the rights of the OvaHerero of the Kaokoland in Namibia and Angola.

“We, the OvaHerero people, have thrived on our ancestral lands for generations, honouring the traditions passed down by our forebears. We have always existed in harmony with our surroundings, drawing sustenance from the land, and in return, serving as its protectors. Our connection to our land is not merely physical; it is spiritual, cultural, and deeply entwined with our identity as OvaHerero. The land is a part of our story, our heritage, and our future. We wish to continue this sacred legacy, safeguarding our territories for the generations of OvaHerero to come.”An excerpt from the BCP notes

Photos: Natural Justice, Earthlife Namibia, and International Rivers